As owner of the first business in Australia to be connected to the NBN, Stephen Love has seen the good and the bad of the new project better than anybody.
Stephen Love, who operates the 25-year-old Galloway’s ChemMart Pharmacy in the town of Scottsdale in Tasmania, already had a decent ADSL service when the NBN arrived late in 2010, but signed up because he could see its future potential.
With around a dozen computers on the premises, bandwidth demands could cause problems, especially during peak time, or when the diversified pharmacy received large emails such as photos sent by customers to be printed.
“In our day-to-day dispensing we need constant connections to Medicare and Centrelink to authenticate prescriptions and handle other transactions,” explains Love. “If the internet is going slowly for any reason, you’re standing there waiting and waiting for a transaction response. When you’re doing hundreds of these per day, that is a pain in the backside.”
The solution came in the form of a 100Mbps NBN service from iPrimus. “The ADSL worked,” he adds, “but it tended to have bottlenecks and system slowdowns. That hasn’t happened since we’ve been on the NBN. Video, too, is very good quality and very seamless and useful; it’s certainly not what we were used to.”
The pharmacy’s NBN connection has also dramatically improved things with its voice over IP (VoIP) phone service, with reduced national call rates slashing phone bills that ran to $500 or more per month. Not to mention that the actual call quality is much higher and much more reliable. NBN access costs are around half what he used to pay for ADSL, and the service’s fast upload speed has allowed the pharmacy to back up gigabytes of data online every night.
Apart from the short-term cost savings and speed improvements, Love – a self-professed early adopter of new technologies – sees the NBN service as a way to dramatically improve staff access to customers across his catchment area, eventually allowing follow-up with customers from their homes.